Once Upon A Time recap – 1×21: ‘An Apple Red As Blood’

Courtesy of ABC

With only one episode remaining until the season finale, Once Upon A Time needs to break out the big guns. That means that it’s time to take drastic action in order to get Emma (Jennifer Morrison) off the fence and into the game. So what better way than to put her child, Henry (Jared Gilmore) predictably in danger?

Let’s bitch it out…As usual Once Upon A Time goes for the obvious plot point as Henry consumes the poisoned apple turnover in order to convince Emma that the curse is real. If you didn’t know this, as soon as Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle) told Regina (Lana Parrilla) that using magic to create magic would have consequences, then you probably need to watch a bit more television.

I’ll admit, however, that Henry is truly the only logical choice for the show to go with. By taking the fall, he will force Regina and Emma to work together to find a solution, though that’s not a full guarantee that Emma will “believe” in magic as a result. Something tells me she’ll need another push.

The only other person I thought the show might put in poisoned apple’s way was Mary Margaret (Ginnifer Goodwin) since she a) lives there and b) had already made a big deal about ‘family’ near the start of the episode. And then I remembered: Emma has already demonstrated that she doesn’t really think of Mary Margaret  all that much! I mean, after August (Eion Bailey) took her into the woods last week to show her his wooden leg (not as dirty as it sounds), Emma took off without even saying goodbye! As they would say on 30 Rock: Rude!

And so, poor Henry suffers for the malice his two moms have for each other (Side Note: There must be some slash fiction out there for these two, right? P.S. if you don’t know what slash fiction is, you may not want to google it at work). For a show that often takes the obvious way out, this feels…about right.

So beyond the cliffhanger leading into next week’s finale, what else happened? Well, MM got all up into Emma’s grill about the late night getaway she tried to pull. I have to say that as much as parts of the MM-Emma confrontation scene didn’t make sense (I’m so angry I’m making tea and sipping it calmly!), I really appreciated MM calling Emma out on her sh*t. Let’s face it: trying to run off with Henry in the middle of the night was an absolutely idiotic move, so kudos for MM to taking Emma to task and reminding her that she’s acting unstable and she’s backtracking to how she was when she first arrived in Storybrooke.

Naturally – since this is Emma we’re talking about – she somehow interprets this as a reason for her to leave town. Well, this and thanks in part to the town conscience as Raphael Sbarge’s Archie tries to convince Emma that she and Regina have to stop fighting because they’re hurting Henry. Ugh – someone get this guy a clue! There’s good natured and then there’s clueless. I can’t wait until he gets his memories back so we can see him pick up a pitchfork and go after the Mayor like we saw the townsfolk do in her opening nightmare P.S. Emma with a sword is kinda badass, but it’s silly that the Mayor would dream of her acting like this. We all know that Emma’s real talent lies not in swordplay, but rather her ability to get her hair to magically cascade over the collar of her eighteen different leather jackets.

The nightmare, however, is enough of a concern that Regina decides to take the offensive (again – naturally. She’s controlled this game since the start). Since she and Gold are having a spat (I hate it when Mommy and Daddy fight!), she enlists the Mad Hatter, Jefferson (Sebastian Stan), to retrieve her poisoned apple from Fairy Tale. I was particularly fond of how much we learned from her interactions with these two men: minor stuff, casually dropped into conversation, like how Emma can’t be killed or the curse breaks, and how Regina gave Jefferson his mansion as penance*. Like, forseriously? The second factoid is kinda interesting, but the first?! It explains so much about why Regina hasn’t just whacked Emma with an ACME frying pan and dragged her body out to the Troll Bridge for cement-shoe swim and the writers just kinda toss it in there like it’s no big deal? Come on! If that’s all that it takes to break the curse, then sign me up: I’ll be first in line to get rid of the useless Mrs. Swann!

*Some unexplained info: where Jefferson has been since we saw him tumble out the window after MM learned kidnap kung-fu, or how he arrived in Storybrooke after Regina trapped him in the Red Queen’s world? Guess these are questions intended for the second season.

Courtesy of ABC

I did like that, in the Fairy Tale side we get a bit of closure  from ‘The Stable Boy’ as Regina forces Snow to visit Daniel’s grave. In keeping with the tradition of the show, Regina is also forced – once again – to sacrifice something she loves to exact her REVENGE (in this case Daniel’s ring, which allows Jefferson’s hat to portal-up!and get her the poisoned apple). It did seem strange that Regina spent all that time to show Snow the grave considering Snow already knew that she had “stolen her happy ending” (as she quotes to Megan Ory’s Red before they storm the castle). Also, as far as master strategists go, what the eff happened that Red didn’t know that the Queen had moved Charming (Josh Dallas) to another castle? That’s a pretty freakin’ huge mistake to make -I wish the writers has simply had her say that she smelled them. Instead Red – and Snow, by proxy – comes off like a real dunce for falling for such a simple bait and switch.

Other Observations:

  • The fairy attack: a) why sleeping powder??? So random  b) why did they need so many of them? c) why would the fairies agree to come for this one mission compared to any other? d) the absence of Nova reinforces that ‘Dreamy’ was, in fact, a waste of time e) overall, it is all just incredibly silly.
  • The joke about Red having “someone” on her chin: gold.
  • Anyone else wonder if they asked Ginnifer Goodwin to fall “slowly” and “prettily” when she bit the apple? I liked how she landed just so so that the apple rolled down the hill in a lovely, cinematically showy way. The match-on with the Fairy Tale apple disappearing into the vortex followed by Regina holding it in her hand was solid, though.
  • Looks like time is running out for August. Not “being good” has turned his arm wooden and it’s getting hard to breathe. Instead of discussing Emma, maybe he should be helping Granny (Beverley Elliott) cross the street or something? Just sayin’.
  • I still think that the show forces/encourages Lana Parrilla to go too broad as a one-note villainess in the Storybrooke scenes. I find her much more palatable in the Fairy Tale scenes where the over-the-top nature of character matches the big hair and leather outfits. The scene when she gives Emma the apple turnover, however, has a great quiet moment: Emma eyes her nemesis suspiciously and you can almost feel Regina’s desperation. It’s a great, vulnerable moment for a character so often asked to run around smirking and plotting (contrast this, for example, with her dramatically over the top taunting scene with Gold after she’s procured the apple).

So we’re down to a single episode. Clearly everything next week hinges on whether or not Emma decides to “believe” her calling. I’ll admit that I’m decided that the show is stretching this out instead of barreling forward with Emma actively looking to take on Regina and break the curse. I still don’t agree with the decision to delay the realization until now considering how many padded episodes we’ve had, but ‘An Apple Red As Blood’ hums along fairly smoothly and gives the core main actors a variety of scenes to play with. Here’s hoping the finale builds on this momentum to deliver something unexpected…

Once Upon A Time airs Sundays at 8pm EST on ABC

About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

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